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Family’s Christmas ‘wish list’ fulfilled - MessAge Media: Features

Steven Eisenreich; Aubrie, Sue and Paul Ralph; and Penny Harms.

Family’s Christmas ‘wish list’ fulfilled

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Posted: Tuesday, December 25, 2018 5:00 am

A McGrath area veteran and his family are having a merrier Christmas this year thanks to Homeless and Wounded Warriors-MN.

Veterans Service Officer Penny Harms was tipped off that the Ralph family, which includes Paul, his wife Sue and three children at home, was having a tough time, especially with a vehicle that suffered a deer collision and was continually breaking down.

“We had the whole family write wish lists,” said Steve Eisenreich, CEO and president of Homeless and Wounded Warriors-MN. “The car wasn’t on any of them.”

On Dec. 15, Eisenreich and fellow members of this charity went to McGrath with Christmas presents for the family. They filled a 2008 SUV, which was also given to the family.

THE NONPROFIT

The Crosslake-based non-profit is dedicated to providing financial and emotional support as well as assistance, respect and honor to the most vulnerable veterans and their families. Eisenreich was the founder with “two outlaw motorcyclists who wished to do their part in eliminating the homeless veteran issue,” he said.

“We matured,” he added, “and are now assisting wounded warrior families, too.”

In its first year in 2005, the group raised $2,100, which was donated to the St. Cloud VA homeless veterans program. An annual motorcycle ride for homeless veterans began that year.

The group’s office was relocated to Crosslake in 2010.

“That year was our first attempt at getting area businesses involved through sponsorship donations,” according to the website. “We were pleasantly surprised to enlist more than 60 businesses, banks, veterans organizations and real estate companies to assist us in our yearly endeavor.”

A silent auction was added to the motorcycle ride events and that year netted about $8,000.

In 2013, Homeless and Wounded Warriors-MN introduced a small line of apparel and begin selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, patches and decals.

The group had a banner year in 2016, with 134 sponsors, a ride and apparel sales, raising $48,000. Also, 2016 was the year the organization gained 501c3 non-profit status.

SERVICES

What Homeless and Wounded Warriors-MN provides are short-term financial assistance; assistance with transitional or permanent housing; referrals to the VA and its own psychologist for mental health counseling; advocacy for veterans to obtain their benefits; voluntary involvement with the organization to provide a fall-back family for struggling veterans; outdoor sporting activities; support counseling; ongoing assistance with budgeting and job skills training; and suicide prevention and intervention.

“Our organization raises money through voluntary contributions and sponsorships by community organizations,” said Eisenreich. “We make our decisions about nominees for help through interviews with the family as well as veteran service officers, neighbors and friends.”

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